Seesmic: If you’re not convinced, here’s a story…

Seesmic 101
Seesmic compilation image by John Larkin

Last night’s Seesmic conversation was a blast! With forty video replies, here’s an excerpt of John Larkin’s detailed account of what happened…

Well, Kevin’s post stirred me into action and I sought out the old email invitation, copied the key and signed up. I sought out Kevin’s Seesmic profile and responded. I made a lame first post and then another tongue in check post in response to Kevin. I thought on that and wondered how would my employer and students react. I immediately posted another video about public versus private identity. That garnered an immediate reply from Mark Taylor. I have embedded the thread here if you wish to view it. Basically, be professional and apply some commonsense.

The exchanges are quite exhilarating and, in my humble opinion, leave Twitter for dead. Perhaps I am a visual learner. I began a thread on Seesmic versus Twitter versus Blogging. Quite a few picked up on that, including Christy Dena, Dean Terry, Andrew Brackin, Kevin Lim, Freida Wolden and Kamel Daoudi. The demographics and the geographical location of the respondents was diverse. The respondents included a young student from England, researchers from the USA and a retiree. A number of the conversations can be viewed on this page.

The discussion covered such topics as mockumentaries, ARGs, Second Life, avatars, World of Warcraft, historical recreations and collaborations. Useful, very useful.

After I told some of my friends about my experience with Seesmic last night, most of them shrugged off posting videos of yourself as being “less forgiving”. This was understandable… which was why even though I too had a Seesmic account early on, but it was only last night that I decided to take the plunge after some of my more adventurous peers started using it. I don’t think anyone would doubt the initial sensation that videos of yourself are a lot less forgiving; you are putting more of yourself at stake. But now stop, collaborate and listen to yourself…

Haven’t we said the same thing before we took to blogging or even twitter?

New medium, New resistance
Once again, every “new” medium challenges us in sensibility. We’ve asked what’s the point of blogs or twitter in some time of our lives, yet we use it as part of our daily routine now. We been through these cycles enough times to know that sensation of the verge, where once you take the leap, you’d wonder why you didn’t try it earlier. Perhaps it’s the formation of a new norm, and the natural resistance which comes with it.

It’s full-on transparency…
What’s happening now, is the idea of transparency being magnified ten-fold over previous media. A few of us have used Youtube in this fashion (e.g. Youtube celebrities), communicating directly with other users as well. Seesmic just makes the conversation more apparent, with video performances structured as currency of the conversations. While we could act or script our video conversations in certain ways, there is more of our presence in it, which could lead to fear of future reprisal. Despite the difference in media form (text > photo > video), it is still the same risks we once took to blogging as our real selves, which is being reiterated on Seesmic.

It’s about performancing…
Over time, Seesmic becomes quite natural, as if talking to friends in chunked pieces arranged through thematic threads (like a forum). Over Seesmic, I was just talking with a bunch of academic friends about the idea of “performancing” and pressure to do right (e.g. has to look perfect), but the amateurism in there invites one to have an easy entrance (i.e. lower benchmark). No need to be too clever, short video blurbs work too.

It’s meme formation at lightspeed…
Thing is, while serious conversation are happening, fictional humor takes place as well. My profile video included what I like, and some caught on to the toy cat I was holding, while others caught on with hats and sunglasses. It’s like people imitating one another in a meme-like fashion, except that the meme formation is fast. We see this on blogs and Youtube, but it’s very drawn out and sometimes forgotten too quickly to catch on. Seesmic responses are lightning fast… one video post leads to another within just minutes, thanks to how easy it is to reply given the current state of video technology. Flash video getting quite ubiquitous for viewing and producing on the fly.

It’s a new aesthetic; a brash context…
This is what makes Seesmic interesting, like how we eat our food, yet arrange it in a certain way to please our eyes, even though it’s our stomach which will eventually consume it. In this case the brain consumes the conversation, but the eyes and ears are enjoying the dressing. It is a new way of pleasing the other senses. Marshall McLuhan’s infamous “The Medium is the Massage” is very pun-ny, and hold true to this notion that the message AND the medium it is used to convey the message, shapes the resultant communication to a receiver.

Ultimately, just as blogging and twitter isn’t for everyone, I do believe that so will Seesmic. Certain sets of people will have different comfort levels to self-disclosure and use appropriate channels they prefer for their personal gratification. With that said, it is still important to have an open mind to try these things for yourself. It is really one thing to watch from the sidelines, and another to jump right in and try it for yourself. As a preview, here’s my Seesmic video profile which kicked off our conversations…

What the above video doesn’t show, is the forty or so weird, intellectual and mostly funny video responses I’ve gotten back. You’ll want to see the other actors here. Highlighting just some of the points discussed…

  1. magical power mako (Japan) welcomed me with a freaky video of her cat sculpture
  2. hache (Columbia) said hello with a familiar green monster
  3. I respond by warning my toys not to venture into Seesmic alone
  4. Christy Dena (Australia) responds to my transparency and presence thoughts, with Snoopy
  5. John Larkin (Australia) turns the conversation into Seesmic vs. Twitter vs. Blogging, while wearing different hats
  6. Dean Terry (Texas) contributes his thoughts about performance pressure and fiction on Seesmic
  7. A young Englishman, Andrew Brackin (England), joins in by sharing his well-articulated thoughts on how Twitter, Blogs and Seesmic differ

I’m pretty much sold, since it makes more sense for me to use Seesmic as a videoblogger. I only wish for more integration with our blogs, so I’ve started using the Seesmic WordPress plugin in the comments should anyone be interested to leave a video response right here. That said, just as blogs and twitter still isn’t for everyone, the same would go for Seesmic. I’m reminding friends to keep an open mind and to see if it fits you.

Want to know more?

Aside: Don’t be an invite show-off. It’s one thing to have invites to new web services, and another to really experience it for yourself through actual participation. Don’t just horde; do play and talk about it.

4 thoughts on “Seesmic: If you’re not convinced, here’s a story…

  1. Making Seesmic video responses more visible {seesmic_video:{“url_thumbnail”:{“value”:”http://t.seesmic.com/thumbnail/1lzmFnrmKd_th1.jpg”}”title”:{“value”:”Making Seesmic video responses more visible “}”videoUri”:{“value”:”http://www.seesmic.com/video/6FEcsbkmZU”}}}

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